Fenway Neighborhood History: Leif Erikson

leif erikson statue boston

While researching for our Fenway Food Tour we discovered a Leif Erikson statue near Commonwealth Avenue and Charlesgate. While it was too far from Kenmore Square for our tour to walk, we had seen a similar Erikson reference in Cambridge.

So did Erikson take an exploratory trip to Massachusetts in the year 1000? Absolutely not! Erikson never even set foot in our state.

What explains the statue then? Back in 1887, a Harvard chemistry professor named Eben Norton Horsford erected the statue using his own money. Horsford claimed that the Vikings arrived to the United States way before the Pilgrims arrived, and he was obsessed with convincing others of this fact. He built the statue to convince others!

In fact, Horsford also thought that the lost Viking city of Norumbega was located on the Charles River, which explains the granite plaque in Cambridge near Memorial Drive and Gerry’s Landing. The plaque pretends to show where Erikson’s home was in year 1000, and isn’t it silly that Horsford’s home was right nearby?

Honestly, it’s almost unbelievable! Apparently Horsford also wrote books and other articles about the Vikings in Massachusetts. And that’s precisely why we love this statue so much.


Our Fenway Food Tour runs Saturdays from 10am-1pm year-round. Please visit our Tour Calendar for more information and book the tour. www.offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com

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